Balancing skills

Stereotypes become less and less applicable as professions learn to work across boundaries. Further, new groupings such as regeneration specialists are emerging. They are slightly broader and at their best they are multidisciplinary, multiskilled multitaskers, but they still do not sufficiently incorporate the softer insights into their practice.

We still remain in a period where 'everyone thinks they have reasons to be dominant' and 'everyone feels justified in their own terms to justify this'. Yet 'silos don't matter if people have a vision beyond their specialism and can see how their specialism fits in'. 'If you want to know a law, you want a lawyer, you want to be absolutely sure it is safe - or if you want the sum, you want someone to add up.' 'The problem is they think they are in charge.' 'With leadership and especially strong local leaders, alliances can be built and then the architects, planners, engineers fall into place and then can deliver.' 'Without leadership silos cement.' This is perhaps the reason for Shaw's pithy remark that the 'professions are a conspiracy against the laity'. 'Leaders overcome the barriers.' 'There is nothing wrong with the skill set around, it's about using them better.' 'Most professionals are good people who want to deliver.' 'The starting point in the leadership process should be what makes a good city rather than let's do the roads first and everybody has to fit around it.'

Too frequently, professions tend to return to their core assumptions. As a cost-accountant-turned-estate-agent noted, 'I was so analytical that I analysed the potential out of the challenge, I analysed things to death.' Furthermore, their minds are governed by the environment in which they work and influenced above all by their peer group.20

Every profession has a gestalt - a shape, form and configuration. Planners project, surveyors cost, engineers calculate, architects visualize. In addition, professions work on different scales - the architect focuses on the block, the engineer within the block and the planner at a wider geographical setting. Yet the regulatory mindset is still prominent. 'There remains much too strong an emphasis on control. Bringing these together is manageable if you have the right culture around them.' 'The key issue is that the differences should be exploited rather than seen as getting in the way.' 'It is more about allowing people to feel relaxed about who they are and using them well. You don't want every planner to be long term - you want the system to pick the right people for the right task.' 'This may be more important than saying everyone should have an MBA.' 'What you need is a balance of skills, professional creativity, analysis skills and the ability to finish.' 'The best way forward is to mix groups as long as the social, the political and the built professions understand the economic.' 'Each person should acquire a bit of the other.' This is especially true for urban design, which by its nature is interdisciplinary. There is a desire to get beyond the stereotype: 'You should get away from the blame culture and generate leadership and management within a broader and more aspirational alliance. An alliance that challenges each of us in a mature way, based on experience; too much challenge is actually infantile.'21

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